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ESPN.in's Season 1: Tumultuous, unforgettable

ESPN.in decided to mark its inaugural season by shining the light on a select group of Indian rookies in their first 12 months at the top rung of their sport. ESPN

In a sporting life, no one ever forgets their first season. Nerves a-jangle, excitement barely battened down, new worlds to explore, unexpected hurdles to tackle and the challenge of competition never before experienced. It's when you learn if you belong in a much-sought-after unfamiliar world. Find out whether you can stand your own ground, place down your markers and establish with certainty to your larger tribe - This is who I am.

Just like it is for every debutant athlete, so it is for us too.

ESPN.in has just completed its first season. It has been tumultuous and unforgettable. From June 2016, we've had to hit the ground running and keep going flat out, with little time to draw a breath. We began by saying goodbye to the Greatest. And then came the torrent - Copa, the Euros, the Rio Olympics, Sakshi and Sindhu, Roger Federer's 18th, Aizawl FC.

Nobody would have wanted it any different. As mega event followed mega event and story broke after story, we were to learn that India's involvement and interest in sport is wide-ranging and all-encompassing. Our readers were invested in global stars but they also sought more about local heroes. We realised we must scan a 24/7 sporting universe in news, views, features, images and videos and bring it home to you every day.

ESPN.in decided to mark its inaugural season by shining the light on a select group of Indian rookies in their first 12 months at the top rung of their sport. They belong to sports that Indians love, follow, watch and compete in - cricket, football, shooting and wrestling - and each was to make their first season memorable.

Shapath Bharadwaj, all of 15, who made his first shooting World Cup final in his first-ever World Cup.

Nineteen-year-old wrestler Divya Kakran won a silver medal at her first senior Asian Championships in Delhi.

Left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, 22, made an instant impact on debut in India's most critical Test of the season, against Australia in Dharamsala, and marked himself down as a vital spin option for India in the season ahead.

In his first I-League season, Laldanmawia Ralte, 24, was key poacher-goalscorer for Aizawl FC as they stirred an entire nation on their way to the title.

Like their first season, ours too has been a treat and a hoot and a blessing. We've learnt as we've gone along; ploughing forth, racing ahead, trying to catch deadlines and trying not to drop the ball. And yes, we know that while everyone loves a first-time winner, it is the second season that is a hard act to follow. But we want our readers and audience to keep their eyes on us and keep us honest because we're in this for the long haul.

Stick around, stay involved. The ride has just begun.